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Freeview vs Sky vs Freesat vs Virgin vs BT vs TalkTalk: UK TV customer league table

Why do a TV league table? 

Latest news for the UK TV customer league tableEvery three months, the major pay-TV providers publish their quarterly financial results for those City types. 

Freesat and Freeview don’t publish official statements, but Ofcom publishes an annual report on the digital TV market, as do some private agencies like GfK.

They’re full of dry figures, but the most important thing for us is who’s got the most subscribers, who’s growing fastest and who’s slipping back.

Many of the pay-TV providers are on different schedules, with their financial years starting in January, April (the start of the British tax year), or even June.

So we’ve decided to compare how they’ve advanced over the past three months and the past 12 months, regardless of where they are in their financial year.

As figures become available, we’ll add YouView, including BT and TalkTalk’s own numbers if they provide them.

Latest news for the UK TV customer league table

TiVo gets into 35 per cent of Virgin Media homes

UK TV customer league table: ​TiVo gets into 35 per cent of Virgin Media homes
TiVo’s giving Virgin Media a strong third-place in UK TV

More than 1.33 million Virgin Media customers have TiVo after adding 896,000 users in 2012.

The TiVo effect added 210,000 new customers for Virgin, bringing it to a total of 3.8m TV subscribers.

Virgin Media CEO, Neil Berkett, said: “2012 was a year of record cable customer growth, where mainstream demand for superfast broadband and TiVo has led to lower churn and a strong increase in new subscribers.

“We continue to add more TV content to all our entertainment services. After the period end [that’s this year in human-speak], we introduced two further HD channels from Turner Broadcasting, bolstering the total number of HD channels available to our customers to 39.”

The glowing full-year financial results for 2013 also included the news that Virgin is to be bought by worldwide cable giant Liberty Global later this year.

February 6, 2013

80,000 YouView homes start TalkTalk’s TV charge

UK TV customer league table: ​80,000 YouView homes start TalkTalk’s TV charge
TalkTalk’s just a sliver on the right, but BT is in its sights

TalkTalk signed up 80,000 customers to its enhanced YouView proposition in 2012 – more than twice BT’s additions.

The broadband-and-phone provider had already amassed 29,000 triallists and pre-bookings before it launched YouView in October, while BT won just 21,000 in the same time.

The TV package is driving fibre-broadband sign-ups, and TalkTalk hopes to win more users with a self-install option that won’t need an engineer to visit.

“We have increased installation capacity to 10,000 per week as our engineering team has become more familiar with the process,” said Dido Harding, chief executive of TalkTalk.

“There are certain segments of our customer base that can derive clear value today from upgrading to fibre, for example those who are interested in taking TV from us and live in a fibre-enabled area, but who currently do not receive sufficient speed to take our TV product.”

TalkTalk said eight out of 10 TV customers use TalkTalk TV as their main TV service, rather than as a second box.

It’s also boosting customer loyalty, with seven out of 10 customers who upgraded from a dual-play Phone and Broadband service saying they’re more likely to stay with TalkTalk beyond their contract terms than they would have been before taking TV.

February 5, 2013

YouView needs surge to make BT Vision work

UK TV customer league table: YouView needs surge to make BT Vision work
YouView’s got a big climb to boost BT Vision

YouView must turn a trickle of new users into a flood if BT Vision is to compete with Sky and Virgin Media.

Around 21,000 BT Broadband customers signed up to YouView in the last three months of 2012, bringing it to a total of 60,000 users.

That’s still just 8 per cent of the 770,000 BT Vision subscribers after nine months of growing at the same rate.

BT Vision’s biggest problem is that broadband subscribers aren’t interested any more – just 13 per cent of broadband subs also take TV, compared to 25 per cent a year ago.

YouView is a big improvement on the old BT Vision service, but the do-or-die moment won’t come until next summer, when football fans decide whether BT Sport is worth their pennies.

February 1, 2013

Is Sky hitting its peak?

UK TV customer league table: Is Sky hitting its peak?
Who’s Britain’s most popular TV provider?

Sky’s still the UK’s largest pay-TV provider and stands just behind Freeview as the main TV service, but new customers slowed to a trickle in 2012.

Overall TV subscribers grew to 10.33 million, just 80,000 more than it had a year before – a far cry from the 321,000 it added in 2011.

If Sky’s overall growth has peaked, it’s still upgrading its existing customers, with 4.6m now paying for HD and 2.5m taking Multiroom – each at £10.25/month, per extra room.

In 2012, another half million (498,000) added HD and 117,000 homes took Sky Multiroom, which isn’t far from its previous year’s growth.

Sky’s also getting customers to connect up their Sky+HD boxes for On Demand, with another 460,000 making the connection during the last three months of 2012, making a total of 1.7m who can download TV and film to their Sky box.

That’s reflected in weekly downloads more than doubling to 4.4m, of which Sky’s own TV and film makes up more than half.

January 31, 2013


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